Sunday, November 29, 2009


Lulubelle enjoying the view aboard "Moss One."
During this special holiday, dedicated to blessings, we are reminded to think about them. We count the many ways that we are blessed. A good and generous God, our faith and grace, family members to love and cherish, dear and special friends, pets that love us unconditionally, wonderful memories that make us smile, medical miracles that heal us, and beautiful places that re-charge our batteries.
My Blessings overwhelm me. My Blessings bury me in goodness. I love the song that reminds us to count our blessings instead of sheep and "you'll fall asleep, counting your blessings. That's a good thing and something we should remember to do every single night when we crawl into bed.

We received an amazing, unexpected, never-even-dreamed about, blessing at the beginning of Thanksgiving week. We got an e-mail from dear friends, Dianne and Bill Moss. They suggested we might like to use their jet-share and go to Jackson Hole for a few days. We were surprised, overjoyed, excited, and mostly blessed by their thoughtful and most generous kindness.

We hadn't seen our little cowboy cabin, dubbed "The Director's Cabin" since mid-summer. It was here that Ron talked to Kris Elftmann, Nixon Foundation Chairmen, multiple times each day about the process of doing a search. Then when Kris began to ask Ron about the possibility of him assuming the Presidency of the Foundation, we talked about how we better "bank some rest" if we were going to prepare to take on such a daunting task.

Dianne and Bill Moss have visited the Director's Cabin many times. They knew how much we love being in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. To sit and watch the sun light and shadows dance across the jagged peaks, chasing wisps of clouds in an endless, changing tapestry is a most relaxing way to spend time.
When the first rays of the morning sun hit the top of the Grand, it shines bright pink and gradually changes to softer golds and yellows as it moves down the range. It usually spends the day in shades of gray with white and evergreen highlights, but sometimes the hand of the howling wind snatches it away completely. When we first started coming here, I liked to say that I was going to get a Doctorate in Teton Viewing. The plan was to spend the hours needed to earn an advanced degree, quietly sitting and staring at its beauty. I think I've done it. Dianne and Bill thought, but more likely knew, we might like to have a quick visit to re-charge ourselves again. What a gift. What a blessing.
Marja, Kodai and Lulubelle, Ron and I, took off Thanksgiving morning from John Wayne airport's Atlantic Terminal in a seven-seater jet. Kodai, did the classic double-take, when he looked out the window and realized the ground was way down below him. Lulubell found the view mesmerizing. What a way to travel. We all agreed, we could sure get used to that!
As the Teton's came into view, plane side, we all took pictures. Even the pilots.

The old reliables, Michelle and Bill Arnold, had our car waiting at the airport for us. Keys under the floor mat. It only takes an e-mail, and the old reliables get the job done, even on a holiday morning. On-site manager, Ron, had turned up the heat and made sure the water heater switch was flipped. Our on-call, as needed, housekeeper, JoAnne had popped in to see if dusting or cobweb getting was needed. More blessings from special people.
We talked about the ways we could have Thanksgiving Dinner the evening of our arrival, but our little Golf and Tennis Club was closed until early December. Even the good old stand-by Dornan's in Moose was going to be closed. Then another Blessing came our way. Pat and Homer Luther invited us to join their family for a Thanksgiving Feast. Those of you that have experienced Homer and Pat's culinary expertise know how great an opportunity this was. Great home-made bloody marys, wine before the wine (Homer's description), and THE wine with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Pat's family favorite, chocolate fudge pecan pie was the perfect cap-stone to a delicious holiday dinner with pals whose friendships go back to the days of our children's childhoods. The view from their work-of-art house, atop Riva Ridge is always a treat to see again.

We cooked our traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday and also feasted on lots of football, especially seeing Arizona win the Territorial Cup from rival Arizona State. (I spent college-day Thanksgiving weekends as a pom-pom girl at that very game.) It was sunny and cold outside, and cozy inside with delicious smells warming the little cabin. A beautiful fox came trotting down the road Sunday morning, hunting his breakfast, as Ron was cooking bacon, eggs and toast for us.

Somehow I missed mentioning a blessing on my Nixon Connection blog. Perhaps because it was really meant to be a part of my Blessings blog. Our friendship with Shelley Scarney and Pat Buchanan go back to early Nixon days. We went to their wedding. During Geoff Shepard's Domestic council gathering, they had a dinner party for at least 80 of the faithful. It was such a huge event, they had to tent their back yard so everyone could have a place at the table. Ron and I sat with Lynne and Dick Cheney and had a good chance to get caught up with them. Too many wonderful, long-time friends were there. I wish I could name them all, but I decided to not even try. Comraderie and a delicious dinner were enjoyed by everyone.

The long-time, Buchanan McLean home is a beautiful, charming house, amid the trees. Their grounds are adjacent to the CIA. Kristine and Gordon Strachan got turned around and found themselves inside the fence at the CIA. Really a no-no, evidently. They said it was easy to get in, but a real hassle to get back out. Since they now live in Utah, they were driving their god-daughter's car. Oops. Sure hope that being in the CIA data bank doesn't cause her heartburn every time she shops in Tyson's Corner.

Now we prepare to head back to Coyote Base tomorrow, Monday. "Moss One" will depart Jackson Hole at ten am. We HAVE re-charged our batteries, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Dianne and Bill. Thank you's are not enough, but heartfelt in every way.

Tuesday morning early we will fly to the Clinton Library in Little Rock. You can see why we get tired keeping up such a pace. Ron will join his counterparts from the other Presidential Libraries for a meeting. It should be an interesting get together, and the subject of my next blog. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Turkey Has Landed

On his first Thanksgiving in the White House, November 27, 1969, President Nixon told a group of senior citizens, “In our family we always had Thanksgiving as a family day. We have in the past, and we do now. Our parents cannot be here now, but we wanted people who have been with this Nation for so many years, who have lived good lives, to be here as our guests today. We feel that you are part of our family and we invite you here as part of our family, The White House family, the American family."

"You have seen the menu. It is the usual, of course. Turkey and all the things that go with it, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Seeing turkey on the menu reminds me that when this country began, Benjamin Franklin argued that the National Bird should be a turkey rather than an eagle. Now, I think he was a very wise man, but the final decision to have the eagle was a better one. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, it would have sounded rather funny to say, 'The turkey has landed.' And today I think you will all agree you would not want to eat eagle."

Would you like to have an authentic Nixon Family Thanksgiving Dinner? The Republican Cookbook, with Recipes for Political Success," The Brownstone Press, Inc., 1969 lists the following:

Mrs. Nixon’s Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Crabmeat bisque
(served with corn sticks)
Roast turkey with celery dressing
Candied sweet potatoes
Tiny onions in cream
Fresh broccoli with lemon butter
Mold of fresh cranberry jelly
Iced celery and black olives
Sage biscuits
Pumpkin pie
Here are some of Mrs. Nixon's recipes for you to try:

1 cup fresh, lump crab meat
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup cream
Saute’ shallots in butter until soft. (Do not brown.) Add flour and stir until mixture is very smooth and flour is well cooked but not browned. Add crab meat and stir. Add milk, salt paprika, and cream and cook over very low heat until thickened. Keep warm by letting stand over hot water. If desired, the bisque may be garnished with finely chopped chives. Serves six.
1 quart dry bread crumbs. (Lightly toast slices or chunks of dry bread and crumble)
¼ cup melted butter
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ tablespoon poultry seasoning
¾ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 egg
Mix all ingredients except the egg in a large bowl. Beat the egg and fold into the dressing mixture. If a moist dressing is preferred, add cold water a few drops at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Stuff the turkey with the dressing or bake in a buttered casserole until brown.

1 ½ cups cooked canned pumpkin (If home cooked, put through strainer)
1 ½ cups cream
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup dark corn syrup
4 eggs slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell
Combine brown sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Alternately stir small amounts of cream and the dry mixture into the pumpkin until the whole mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in syrup, eggs, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into unbaked pie shell and bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake pie until firm or until silver knife, inserted into center of pie, comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream.

Today, we are just like those senior citizens in 1969, invited to share Thanksgiving traditions with the Nixon Legacy, represented here at the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation. All of us here, and especially the Walker family, wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving.
We plan to spend the holiday counting our many blessings and enjoying a delicious turkey dinner. Our blessings include the many friendships and opportunities we enjoy because of the Nixon family, and the many doors they opened for us. May God continue to Bless America and give our leaders wisdom. . . . and may God Bless all of you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Nixon Connections

We left Coyote Base (actually we should have dubbed it "Coyote Hole" since we have to walk outside and look straight up to see the sky) and spent a few days in Tucson. It was good to check on the place and tend to some business. Then we flew to Washington, DC, where the Nixon Connections occur on a regular basis. Like wheels among wheels, they come together, separate for awhile, and join up again. It's quite amazing, exciting, heartwarming and fun!

Ron and I flew to Washington a few days early so we could attend a "Celebration of Life" gathering for Bill Safire at the University Club. The Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist was eulogized by such luminaries as Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Ann Dore McLaughlin Korologos, Daniel Schorr, Judith Miller, Marvin Kalb, Charles Krauthammer, Rahm Emanuel was scheduled but did a no-show, Donald Rumsfeld, Patrick Leahy, and Bill's daughter, Annabel Safire. Reading the names, you can just imagine what an amazing tribute it was. We like to think of Bill as one of "our own," but he became much larger than just a Presidential speech writer. He won his Pulitzer for distinguished commentary and was the most widely read writer about the English language, with his column "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine and in newspapers around the world. His books are too numerous to count

We walked from the JW Marriott to the University Club. The wind felt really cold to a couple of western desert rat/beach bums, but we braved the elements and enjoyed seeing so many friends. It was a fitting turn out.

President Nixon's Domestic Policy Staff gets together every November, to reminisce, celebrate and/or commiserate if it happens to be an election year. These gatherings have been organized by Geoff Shepard for many years and Ron has been an "honorary member" for a long time. He describes it this way: he blew up balloons and painted hand signs and made sure all these policy makers and lofty thinker-types found their seats in motorcades, helicopters and on Air Force One. It's a pretty accurate description. They always gather after the luncheon for a group photo and John Whitaker, aka Cheers, is usually in the front row wearing white socks. He was absent this year because he was somewhere on the Nile River.

Luncheon is always followed by a series of speakers. This year, one of the speakers was James Rosen, author of "The Strong Man" a biography of John Mitchell, and a Fox News correspondent. His talk was riveting, but my favorite line was his telling the gathering of Nixon administration aides, that it was their job to "rescue the caricature of Richard Nixon." I had not thought of it in those terms, but it is an apt description of exactly what we are trying to do. He is not ONLY the Herblock pen and ink drawings of exaggerated jowls, five o'clock shadows and sinister sneers. Not by a long shot.

When President Nixon appointed Ron as the 8th Director of the National Park Service, he fired George Hartzog. It was a shock to everyone in the service. George had been there since 1964. He was a legend, and enjoyed more clout on capitol hill than most people in the capitol city. George and Helen Hartzog were gracious and good to us from the very beginning. The first thing they did was have a huge party for us at the National Capitol Parks headquarters. Rangers from all over the area came to meet us, but probably the main reason they came was to tell George and Helen how much they would be missed.

In 2006, George and Clemson University awarded Ron the George B. Hartzog, Jr. Environmental, Walter T. Cox Award, "for sustained achievement in public service providing leadership in administration of public lands and for policy formation affecting our natural and cultural resources".

Ron was honored, but there was more to the plan than we first realized. George asked Ron if he would "Chair" the proposed Hartzog Institute for National Parks. It would be housed at Clemson in South Carolina. Ron accepted the challenge. The next couple of years were frustrating. One step forward usually resulted in several steps backward. People questioned motives and jockeyed for organizational positions. The memorandum of understanding was dissected, massaged and manipulated. Dean Larry Allen at Clemson hung in and refused to walk, when lesser men would have given up on all the factions that vied for positioning. Ron was ready to walk several times too, but he would always say that he couldn't quit. He had promised George. George Hartzog died knowing he had an Institute, but he did not see the Board of Directors appointed and the Inaugural meeting take place on Wednesday, November 11, 2009.

Dayton Duncan was this years featured speaker. His collaboration with Ken Burns for "National Parks, America's best idea" is a fantastic book and TV series. In his remarks, Dayton said that the first two Director's of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather and Horace Albright, were the Washington and Jefferson on the Mount Rushmore of National Parks. He said Stuart Udall was the Lincoln, and he went on to talk about the reason he felt this was true.

After his remarks, he walked by Ron and told him, "you were the Teddy Roosevelt." We decided it was a very flattering and generous bit of hyperbole from Mr. Duncan.

The bottom line is that there is now a Hartzog Institute for National Parks at Clemson University and Ron kept his promise to George.

The campus of Clemson University is beautiful. Lakes, trees, rolling hills and gorgeous views are everywhere. "The Walker" golf course is on campus and of course we had to visit the pro-shop and buy some shirts. Larry and Barb Allen, and Brett and Judy Wright were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed some great restaurants, topped off by the final nights feast at the Allen's home.

We came back to Coyote Base (Hole?) tired, but also energized at how much had been accomplished in a relatively short time. Marja, our house/dog manager, had chicken-sour cream enchiladas, and re-fried black beans waiting for us. How wonderful and special is that? The weekend was spent re-charging our batteries, and by Monday, we were ready to roll once more. I volunteered in the Museum gift shop and we kicked off the "Festival of Trains" that evening. Calling all train buffs, and kids of all ages, you don't want to miss this. There was a huge turnout, and Ruby's Diner served their famous sliders. YUM!

GramAnne aside: When I first started this blog, it was mostly to just record and write about stuff that was fun, especially the wit and wisdom of grandsons Hugh and Jake Hart. When Ron flunked retirement and the girls asked me to "blog" about our involvement with the Nixon Foundation, it took on a more serious purpose. But . . . . please allow me a little detour now and then: The Hart family was watching, "Dancing with the Stars," and Michael Buble was singing. Jake, 6 years old, said, "He sounds just like that old guy GranGran listens to, you know, that Frank guy."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What does "Nixonian" mean?

It seems to me that we are hearing the term "Nixonian" used more often these days. Most recently when TV pundits were talking about the Obama Administrations criticism of Fox News. They talked a great deal about the Obama folks having an enemies list and how they were acting very "Nixonian." I know they weren't being complimentary when they said it.

I asked our in-house expert about this, the wonderful and wise Frank Gannon, and he had some interesting historic facts about the "enemies list." It was originally a September 9, 1971 memo to John Dean, from Chuck Colson. It contained only 20 names. Mostly the reason they were on the list is because they were very, vocally, anti-Nixon. Dean took that original list and expanded it to over 200 names, mostly made up of people who were against the Vietnam war. He, Dean, has said publicly that he didn't think President Nixon knew about the list. Then it surfaced during the "Watergate" hearings. Today, we are lead to believe the President wrote it himself. That is unfair and wrong.

I have often referred to myself as a "Nixonian Republican" and I never considered that I was being unkind to myself when I used that description. My parents were life-long Republicans and my mother was proud to describe herself as a "Civil Righter." Then, President Nixon's leadership also shaped me and how I think. I AM a more moderate Republican than many of our party members today and using the term just meant exactly that. My more conservative friends don't seem to hold it against me. There should be room for both mind-sets in our party. Wise counsel told us that we should agree to disagree agreeably!

I went on Wikipedia to see what their description of "Nixonian" might be. What I read was very interesting. First of all, "one never self-identifies as a Nixonian."

Oh my, what about me? I even have a button that my daughter Marja made for me that says, "Proud Nixonian Republican." I must admit that when I wore it at the 1988 RNC convention, certain folks looked at me like I had a communicable disease!

The description goes on to say, "The term is most frequently used by Republicans to attack self-described moderates; when used by Democrats it is more apt to be used in the context of the Watergate scandal and the suggestion of Republican corruption."

OK, we already knew about that and live with it everyday here at the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation.

More from Wikipedia: "This moniker is based upon the administration of Richard Nixon, who ran in 1968 and 1972 as a conservative, only to enact unprecedented amounts of new regulations and government agencies, and expand federally provided social services. Among those were the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, implementation of price and wage controls to try to reduce inflation, and an unsuccessful attempt to provide a guaranteed minimum income to taxpayers."

Hey! Isn't this the Legacy we want everyone to know about? Now that's NIXONIAN, and it's a good thing.

I've been spending some time as a volunteer in the Museum Shop at the Library. It is fun and a great opportunity to chat with visitors and find out why they chose to visit. Their reasons are overwhelmingly positive and that's heartwarming to hear. Last week I looked up from the cash register to see John and Marilyn Wilbur walking toward me. We were classmates at the University of Arizona and Marilyn and I were Delta Gamma Pledge sisters in the spring of 1956. What could be more fun than that? After they toured the Library, they said they "had forgotten what a great President he was." So, it seems, have a heck of a lot of other people. That's the mission ahead as I see it: remind the people and focus on the Legacy of the 37th President of the United States.

Tell me what you think. How should we work to take back the Nixonian label? Maybe the RN Foundation web-site could have a "Nixonian Moment," or "Nixonianisms of Note" posted now and then. I for one would love to see it become a description to be proud of again.